Council tax in Hampshire is set to rise after the county’s police and crime panel approved plans to raise the police precept by £15.

The increase, which equates to 29p a week, is to be used to allow Hampshire Constabulary “to respond more fully”, with the force saying they will be able to investigate up to 26,000 more crimes with the new funds.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Michael Lane, said that it was “good news for all residents” but a Liberal Democrat candidate for his job said that the increase was evidence of “just how woeful” government funding for Hampshire Constabulary was.

The police precept is the proportion of council tax that is paid by residents to fund police work in their force area. In Hampshire, it pays for around 40 per cent of the police budget.

There has been an increase in the precept every year since 2013, which for a number of years was set as a 1.99 per cent increase. For 2021, the rise will be £15 for a band D property, the second highest increase since the introduction of police and crime commissioners in 2012.

This will raise around £10 million for Hampshire Constabulary, which will be put to a variety of uses. Officers say they will have the capacity to investigate up to 26,000 more crimes, maintain PCSO numbers, and have targeted support for rural initiatives. They also claim to be able to reduce offending by 1000 crimes, though how this is to be achieved is not stated.

A consultation was put out to residents, with 8.348 responding. 66.1 per cent indicated they supported the £15 increase. 34.26 per cent said the increase should be spent on crime prevention, while 29.14 per cent said it should be spent on youth diversion.

Michael Lane said: “The last year is not a year any of us would have wanted and the challenges are not over yet. The pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty and financial strain for so many people, I had to be strongly convinced that it is the right thing to do to increase the police precept at all.

“Policing has continued to be under significant pressure over the last year, with increased responsibility to enforce the coronavirus restrictions and while some crimes have reduced with more people at home there has been an increase in other crimes like domestic and sexual abuse.

The Chief Constable set out a compelling operational case to me for an increase that would enable the continued policing effort to enforce the restrictions, and to look ahead to the rest of the year and beyond to investigate more crimes and make more arrests.”

However, Richard Murphy, a Liberal Democrat candidate for the role, said that the increase would not change Hampshire being “a poorly funded area” for policing, receiving £43.5 million less than the national average from the government.

He said: “Unbelievably, while the government boasts of funding new officers, the £2.6m additional funding from central government pays salaries but does not cover the costs of equipping and training these new officers. The force is already needing to plan for cuts elsewhere in future years to be able to pay for the higher numbers of officers coming through.

Today’s decision by the Police and Crime Panel to support the proposed annual £15 increase in the Council Tax funding highlights just how woeful the government funding is.”